Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe

The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways
By Nicole Kristal & Mike Szymanski
Pub. Alyson, 2006
Buy it now on Amazon: The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips, and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways


The trouble with most books on bisexuality is that they are as dull as hell. It’s a long time since I started to work out that I was bi, and time may blur the memory, but I don’t think it was about feeling myself to identify with the number three. Or even with a string of seven numbers reflecting my emotional, social, physical and other preferences. No, I’m pretty sure that in amongst the teenage hormone storm of the time, it involved fancying boys and girls. Later I may have worked out there was fancying other people too, but at the root was the word “phwoar”, and the ill-formed question “arghh!?”.

Nicole and Mike are here to save us from the rigorous academic approach to sorting your head out as bisexual, with the fluffy, frank and smutty handbook to reassuring yourself that there are lots of bisexuals out there and you need not be like any of them.

So, gone is the “ten horrid stereotypes about bis from non-bis and how to counter them” that has been the staple of many bi publications before including BCN’s own. Here instead is the tongue-in-cheek “how to live the bi stereotype” guide: if you’re going to be assumed to be doing all this stuff anyway, you might as well run through the check list to make sure you are doing it all.

There’s a little talk of theory and community, just so you know that they are there and have some idea where to look for more about each if that’s what you are after. That out of the way there’s a lot of talk about getting into relationships and the pros and cons (as the writers see them) of being a bi man or woman in a relationship with bi, gay or straight women and men. This manages to drag out for a while (there being a lot of possible combinations – how to pull straight women for bi women and so forth) without feeling like it drags.

The canonical list of bi films breaks them down into the categories you’d use in a pub conversation: films you must have seen if you’re bi; if you’re bi and over fifty; bi and have a high IQ; only if you don’t mind really bad acting…

There are some damn useful lists too; the biggest list I’ve ever seen outside Wikipedia of “bi icons” who are bi or have helped raise the bi profile through public statements and acting roles; some of the species where bisexuality has been observed in nature; and a timeline of bi history

The only real problem with Guide To The Universe is that it is very USA-focused. For 98% of the book that’s not a problem: we speak a language which is made up of mostly the same words as Americans, and the bi scenes on either side of the Atlantic are pretty similar. But having been to half a dozen bi social/support groups around Britain I don’t really recognise any of them in their cautionary tale of bi groups. The first bi conference is listed as San Fransisco, 1990, not London, 1984. And with a US audience clearly in mind the listings of “places to go next” are not much help to Brits.

There’s one howler on the guide to bis on TV too, muddling two UK television series, which I’ll leave for readers to enjoy.

Those are minor qualms though. An excellent read: funny, informative and a bi book you’ll be pressing copies of onto your friends.


Jen blogs about her bi volunteering (and other things) here.